Dayton Public Schools shake up leadership

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Rhonda Corr and Adil Baguirov talk about the district's new chief academic officer and assistant superintendent.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Board hires new chief academic officer and assistant superintendent, reassigns 3 others

Dayton’s school board quietly approved an administrative shakeup at its meeting Tuesday night, hiring two top-level administrators and changing the job duties of three existing district leaders.

The board voted to hire Markay Winston as chief academic officer and Elizabeth Lolli as assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. There was no mention of the moves, which were just two lines of a 252-item human resources recommendation during the public meeting.

“In our search for a chief academic officer (Winston), we came across another highly qualified candidate (Lolli) who’s actually been a superintendent in two other districts and specializes in curriculum and instruction,” DPS Superintendent Rhonda Corr said when asked about the moves. “We have an incredible need for teaching and learning also. So we plan to utilize both of them.”

Winston worked with Corr at Chicago Public Schools, leading the district’s special education efforts from 2012 until October 2015. She resigned last fall as the district was cutting special education expenses, according to the Chicago Tribune. Before her Chicago job, she was director of student services for Cincinnati Public Schools for several years.

Lolli has been director of curriculum and instruction for Middletown City Schools since summer 2013. She was superintendent of Monroe schools near Middletown from 2008 to 2012, and spent four years as superintendent of Barberton schools near Akron before that. Her assistant superintendent job with DPS will be focused on curriculum and instruction.

Winston and Lolli were not at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We have two highly qualified individuals who are joining a team led by another highly qualified individual, our superintendent,” school board President Adil Baguirov said. “We’re very happy to have this caliber of administrators joining DPS and we think that we’ll be able to rapidly improve our schools.”

Corr also created three job assignments for existing administrators.

  • David Lawrence, formerly chief of school innovation, is now chief of special assignments, including oversight of the Males of Color office, Longfellow Academy, which works with at-risk students, and the Dayton Business Technology High School charter school.
  • Bob Buchheim, formerly director of curriculum and instruction, is now Chief of Schools — South, overseeing 11 schools, including five of the six DPS high schools.
  • Wyetta Hayden, formerly chief of school improvement, is now Chief of Schools — North, overseeing 16 schools, including all three newly aligned middle schools.

Buchheim said the chief of schools roles will be about providing support and supervision to each building, making sure districtwide initiatives are implemented properly everywhere.

“This is hugely important,” Baguirov said. “Academics is our biggest problem and this is exactly why the state is trying to take us over. That means we have to approve academics rapidly.”

Corr has repeatedly said she wants a better connection between central office administrators and individual school buildings and departments. Asked who would report to whom, Corr said the district’s organizational chart is in revision.

More teachers hired

School started Tuesday, and Human Resources Director Judith Spurlock said DPS has only two core subject teaching positions unfilled. The district is still trying to hire 15 more intervention specialists to work with special education students.

Last year, DPS was still trying to fill 37 full-time classroom positions at the end of the first quarter.

Spurlock said DPS has hired more than 200 teachers for this school year. The district had already replaced more than a third of the district’s 800-plus teachers in the previous three years because of heavy retirements, according to union officials.

After-school focus

DPS approved supplemental contracts for more than 125 teachers and paraprofessionals to provide after-school reading and math intervention for struggling students, a program the district did not offer last school year.

Assistant Superintendent Shelia Burton said the after-school work will begin in September after diagnostic tests benchmark where students stand.

The hires approved Tuesday night will keep five to nine teachers or aides after school at each elementary and middle school in the district. After-school education and summer school efforts have been a big part of improvement plans devised by DPS and Mayor Nan Whaley’s City of Learners group.